Hold off on buying that digital converter box

Full story: Chicago Tribune

Here's my energy-saving tip of the week: Stop wasting valuable brainpower worrying about the conversion to digital television.
Comments
1 - 3 of 3 Comments Last updated Aug 12, 2008
antennaguy

AOL

#1 Jul 14, 2008
Consumer Reports has rated some of the available converter boxes at:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronic...

As Far as I know right now, the $40 coupons can only be used on 16 brands of converter boxes with the "analog pass-through" feature: APEX DT250, Apex DT500, CASTi CAX-02, DIGITAL STREAM DSP7700T, DIGITAL STREAM DTX9950, DIGITAL STREAM DX8700, DISH Network DTVPal, Jiuzhou DTT9001, Magnavox TB-100MG9, Microprose MPI-500, Philco TB100HH9, Philco TB150HH9, RCA DTA800B1, Skardin DTR-0727L, TATUNG TDB3001 and Venturer STB7766G1. There may be more.

It is true that if you live very close to the transition towers, a wire coat hanger can pick up some broadcast signals and higher is better, outdoor is the best. And viewers should certainly try their old antenna first. It’s also true that any of these older antennas will pick up some signals, maybe all the broadcast signals a viewer wants to receive, depending on their location. If they’re getting all the OTA channels they want, than they’re good to go.

Most TV consumers think of antennas as low-tech devices, but there is more behind some of the newer antenna designs than just bent metal and plastic. Many of the TV antenna designs in use and on the market today such as the Yagi and rabbit ears you mentioned have technology roots going back 30 to 50 years or more.

The switch to digital broadcasts however is bringing consumers back to Off-Air reception and the increasing sales are providing the motivation and investments necessary to develop new models and new technology. The fact that most designs on the market now were developed prior to the advent of much of the computer technology, software and algorithms in common use today has left open numerous avenues to improve upon tried and true designs and develop new ones.

Additionally, recent regulations and standards are opening new doors for antenna engineers to develop smaller antennas with improved performance and aesthetics.

While it’s correct that antennas can’t tell the difference between analog and digital signals, there are definitely certain models which have higher DTV batting averages than others. Not all antennas are equally suited for DTV. A percentage of viewers will require something a little more tailored for DTV reception.

The correct antenna, installed and aimed properly, unimpeded by obstacles such as building, hills, trees, etc. will receive desired local stations in range it’s aimed at. And the new antennas, working with the newer generation ATSC chips will mitigate multi-path (bounced signals), including multi-cast programming adding several additional local off-air programs and several in HD almost completely uncompressed, not available from cable or satellite. Some viewers may even be able to receive out-of-town channels, carrying blacked out sports programs or network broadcasts not available in their home town. As an added benefit, an OTA antenna provides reception for second sets in homes not wired for whole-house signal distribution.

While cable and satellite program providers will continue to serve the great majority of homes as the primary signal source, missing HD local reception, compression issues, higher costs, billing add-ons, service outages, contact difficulties, in-home service waits and no shows have left many of these subscribers looking to OTA antennas as a good alternatives.

Depending on the level of desire to receive all the broadcast signals available free, considering the investment in HDTV entertainment already made by many viewers, shouldn’t they consider up-grading to a new digital OTA antenna or adding one to their reception options?

To check out free OTA options, viewers can go to antennapoint.com to easily locate the broadcast stations within range in Cleveland and other OTA helpful information.
Iris Gross

Oklahoma City, OK

#2 Jul 17, 2008
This is the one of the worst examples of unclear writing I've seen. The reader is being told to hold off buying the converter, not to mention how imperfect the technology is, then told how easy it is to hook up. This is writing?

I say disregard the author. I understand Chicago area residents have problems with the digital signals, but as for me, who lives far away in Oklahoma, I'm glad I bought mine in March without the benefit of a government gift card.
A ten dollar RCA antenna pulls in crystal clear signals into my Magnavox tuner, and I now have Telemundo, qubo and extra weather and PBS channels for free. Because of this, I'm hooked on Jacob Two-Two.

It's not the end of the world, but rather an enhanced experience that allows me to get the most out of my perfectly-good 7-year old JVC tube TV for less than the price of a tank of gas. One could wait until the new president is installed to experience this, too, but why? This article gives you no good reason to hold off.
cindy

United States

#3 Aug 12, 2008
I just hooked up a dtx9900--no low power pass-through--and got a much better picture on my 3-4 year old 13" analog set, with a good antenna. Since I work at a senior center I wanted to get ready to help our seniors, but I am very impressed by the bright and sharp colors. I will wait to get a hdtv. I do want a vcr/dvd with a digital tuner, but none of the ones available seem to pass through the digital picture.

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